September 26 marks the International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian Journalists, initially declared by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in 1996. On that day, tens of Palestinian journalists were injured by Israeli forces while covering incidents and clashes in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). IFJ called on international journalists at the time to increase solidarity with Palestinian journalists who were increasingly subjected to violations of human rights by the Israeli forces.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights stresses the important role that the media has in society. Al Mezan reiterates that journalists must be allowed to carry out their work freely, while realizing their right to free expression, as enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Furthermore, at times of armed conflict, journalists are considered civilians and must therefore be granted due protection, as stated in Article 79 of Additional Protocol I (1977) to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which represents customary international humanitarian law.
Monitoring and documentation indicate that the Israeli military systematically targets Palestinian journalists. This targeting has escalated with the active involvement of journalists in covering the Great Return March demonstrations in Gaza as well as the popular protests in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Violations against journalists take many forms, including denial of access to locations of incidents, destruction of equipment, arbitrary arrest, physical assault, and use of firearms that lead to injury or death. The Israeli forces not only targets journalists in the field, but also hinder their work through disruption of broadcast signals, frequent shutdown of radio stations, and occasional destruction of media offices and broadcasting towers.
Documentation by Al Mezan shows that between 26 September 2017 and 26 September 2018, journalists and media professionals were targeted 134 times in the Gaza Strip. In these incidents, two journalists were killed and 116 injured. Since the start of the Great Return March demonstrations in Gaza on 30 March 2018, 130 violations have been perpetuated against Palestinian journalists. In these violations, 112 journalists and media professionals were injured, including five female journalists and 18 who were wounded on more than one occasion. Of the injured journalists, 65 were wounded by live fire or shrapnel of live fire, and 65 were directly hit by tear gas canisters. Tens of other journalists suffered from breathing difficulties and had to be treated at hospitals due to Israeli forces’ heavy use of the gas.
Al Mezan stands in solidarity with Palestinian journalists and deeply values their efforts to report on issues of public interest and expose violations of citizens' rights. Al Mezan continues to strongly condemn attacks on journalists. Al Mezan calls on: